Illinois School Discipline Reform Law: Effective September, 2016

DunceDiscipline Reform:


Governor Rauner signed into law dramatic reforms in school discipline. The intent of the law is to use suspensions and expulsions as a last resort.

Illinois has one of the widest disparities between black and white students in the country, according to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. In the 2012-2013 school year, Chicago Public Schools issued 32 out of school suspensions for every 100 black students, compared to just 5 for every 100 white students. (Voices of Youth in Chicago Education).

Hopefully, the law will have the effect of excluding fewer students from schools.

Summary of the New Act:

  1. Schools must adopt student discipline policies consistent with the Act and review them annually.
  2. School districts must limit the number and duration of suspensions to the greatest extent possible. (Suspensions and expulsions are a last resort, rather than the first response.)
  3. The bill provides struggling students with academic and behavioral supports, and promotes fairness by holding public schools and charter schools to the same standards.
  4. Schools must not advise or encourage students to drop out of school due to behavioral or academic challenges.
  5. Schools must create a policy for suspended students, including those students who have been suspended from the bus and do not have alternate transportation, to make up any missed work for equivalent academic credit.
  6. Schools are encouraged to create memoranda of understanding with local law enforcement agencies to define the role of law enforcement within the school.

Suspension Time Lines:

Suspension of 1-3 Days

  • In the written decision, the school must explain (1) the specific act of gross disobedience or misconduct; and (2) the rationale for the specific duration of the suspension.
  • Suspension of three days or less may be used only if the student’s attendance presents a threat to safety or a disruption to other student’s learning opportunities.
  • Students must be provided an opportunity to make up any missed work for equivalent academic credit.

Suspension of 4 days

  • The same as above, however, schools must also document whether other behavioral and disciplinary measure have been exhausted AND
  • The student’s presence in the school poses a threat to the safety of other students, staff or school community, OR
  • Substantially disrupts the operation of the school

Suspension of 5-19 days

  • The same as above with the additional condition.
  • Document whether the appropriate and available support services are to be provided or whether it was determined that there are no appropriate and available services for the student.
  • Students who are suspended must be provided an opportunity to make up any missed work for equivalent academic credit.


  • Detail the specific reasons why removing the student from school is in the school district’s best interest.
  • Provide a rationale for the duration of the time for the expulsion.
  • Document whether other interventions were attempted.
  • Schools may expel a student only if other appropriate and available behavioral interventions have been exhausted and if the student’s attendance at the school poses a threat to the safety of other students, staff of school community, or the student substantially disrupts the operation of the school.
  • A school may refer expelled students to appropriate and available support services during the time the student is expelled.
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About Micki Moran

Micki Moran is the founding partner of The Child and Family Law Center, Ltd. She dedicates her practice to providing legal assistance to children and families who are in need of representation in the areas of special education, disability law, juvenile and young adult criminal law, abuse and neglect, guardianship, and mental health issues. Micki's practice is founded on the principle that children and their families require and deserve excellent legal representation with a multidisciplinary approach that works with multiple systems of care and creates communities that support and improve the quality of all peoples' lives.
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